Roof window giant Velux has made its first moves into the Internet of Things (IoT) space with the announcement of a new product line, Velux Active, developed in partnership with smart home company Netatmo.

Billed as “the first ‘plug and play’ smart home solution for remote sensor-based operation of roof windows, blinds and shutters”, the Velux Active range will monitor and respond to changing environmental conditions, ensuring appropriate temperature, humidity and CO2 concentrations.

It will also allow homeowners to control products within the range using supporting Apple devices, meaning they can instruct Siri to open a window, or lower integrated blinds through the Apple Home app. It is also compatible with Android devices.

Velux Active: the value of smart home monitoring

The announcement reflects the convergence of two growing areas: consumer awareness of indoor air quality and the smart home market.

IoT devices for use in the home are on the up, with the global smart home market set to see significant growth in the coming years. It is predicted to rise to a global value of $53.45bn in 2022 from $31.4bn in 2018, according to Statista. The market has already grown by almost a third since 2016.

“Smart homes continue to be an important consumer trend and are expected to be mainstream within the next four years,” said Kent Holm, SVP, global product management, the Velux Group.

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“By digitalising the operation of roof windows to automatically improve your indoor climate, we’re adding a health and wellbeing dimension to the intelligent home and pushing innovation in this area to the next level.”

Smart homes and the rise in millennial homeowners

Fuelling the growth are younger consumers, who are generally more open to idea of controlling home appliances with technology. According to research by GlobalData, 73% of millennials – aged 18 to 34 – found the concept of controlling such appliances with their smartphones ‘appealing’ or ‘very appealing’.

By contrast, less than half of over 55s shared the same sentiment.

“The convenience and efficacy that smart homes deliver appeals more to millennials, given that younger consumers lead busier, more demanding lifestyles, and yearn for effective and efficient products that are seamlessly integrated with the smart technologies they use day in, day out,” said Matthew Perry, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData.

For Velux, this partnership comes at a time when millennials are beginning to buy their first homes in increasing numbers – after renting for longer periods than previous generations. Research by the US National Association of Realtors, published in March, found that millennials made up the largest share of home buying activity in the US for the 5th consecutive year, rising to 36% from 34% in 2017.

However, as they have delayed purchasing their first home for longer than their parents, millennials are increasingly skipping the conventional starter home in favour of properties they intend to stay in for far longer.

These are the types of properties they are likely to make improvements to, making them a vital market for Velux to target. As a result, the Velux Active range seems designed with this market in mind.

Rising concerns surrounding indoor air quality

The announcement comes as understanding and concerns surrounding indoor air quality are on the rise. A study in 2011 found that 15 different pollutants were at levels where they could cause chronic health issues in “a large fraction” of US homes.

In particular, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from a host of household items, including furniture, beauty and cleaning products, can cause significant health issues. Among the most severe issues associated with VOCs are cancer, damage to the central nervous system and kidney and liver damage.

On average VOCs are between twice and five times more prevalent in homes that outdoors, but can be 1,000 times higher in certain circumstances, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Increasing understanding and thus concern about this issue has resulted in an increase in products designed to help consumers improve their indoor air quality, with Netatmo’s own range of sensors among the market leaders in this space.

A system that can not only monitor air quality, but take actions to improve it is rare, and is generally confined to new, large-scale developments. As a result, Velux Active is a key early product in this space, offering the first real option for many consumers wanting an automatic solution to indoor air quality issues.

“By automating the opening, closing and shading of roof windows, we can make a big difference and improve indoor climate so users don’t have to worry about it,” said Fred Potter, founder and CEO of Netatmo. “We created a smart sensor-based solution that is not only easy to use and reliable, but also beneficial for user’s wellbeing.”